November 18, 2012

Five things you need to know about the fiscal cliff

Unless it's averted, the manufactured Capitol Hill crisis will have real-world implications for you. Yes, you.

By Kevin Miller
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 2)

Today's poll: Fiscal cliff

How concerned are you that you’ll be personally affected by the so-called ‘fiscal cliff’?

A lot


Not Very

View Results

Barack Obama, John Boehner
click image to enlarge

President Obama, accompanied by House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, speaks to reporters at the White House on Friday. More than $600 billion in higher taxes and across-the-board spending cuts will kick in for the coming year Jan. 1 without a deal in Washington to reduce the federal deficit. Maine could realistically expect to lose 6,000 to 10,000 jobs if the spending cuts go through, USM economist Charles Colgan estimated.

2012 File Photo/The Associated Press

Related headlines


Here is a sampling of potential spending cuts that that could affect Mainers. The dollar figures are the national totals.

Department of Defense, general military programs operations and maintenance: $3.9 billion

U.S. Navy, operations and maintenance (non-exempt): $4.3 billion

U.S. Navy, shipbuilding and conversion: $2.1 billion

U.S. Coast Guard, systemwide: $440 million

U.S. Customs and Border Protection: $813 million

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (operations, research and facilities): $257 million

Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program: $285 million

Agricultural Disaster Relief Fund: $104 million

Rural Housing Service Rental Assistance Program: $74 million

Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children: $543 million

Environmental restoration of former defense sites: $31 million

Special education services: $1 billion

Federal student financial aid: $140 million

U.S. Housing and Urban Development, Rental Assistance programs: $1.5 billion

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Resource Management: $105 million

National Park Service, park operations: $183 million

"This would be an additional hit that would certainly hurt. There's no question about it," he said.


Families sending children to college, meanwhile, would lose access to the American Opportunity Tax Credit of up to $2,500 a year to cover tuition and other educational expenses, including textbooks. That credit would be replaced by the Hope Tax Credit, which is capped at $1,800 and has tighter income restrictions.

Gianna Marrs, director of student aid at the University of Maine in Orono, said the Opportunity Tax Credit especially benefits middle-income families who may earn too much to qualify for financial aid.

Other work-study and need-based grant programs could also see reductions, Marrs said. And while the popular Pell Grants are shielded in 2013, the program would be cut in future years.

University researchers are bracing for the impact as well.

"We've already started to feel the results of the fiscal cliff," said Mike Hastings, director of research and sponsored programs at UMaine. "Some of the federal agencies are so concerned about it that they are withholding their solicitations" for grant applications.

The federal government provided roughly 93 percent of the $61.5 million in grants that flowed through Hastings' office last fiscal year, supporting several hundred faculty and many more graduate students. Those researchers and graduate students conduct work that not only can lead to scientific discoveries but also can spawn commercial enterprises -- and therefore jobs.

The National Science Foundation, which is one of the biggest sources of federal research funding, is already warning researchers that existing multi-year grants may have to be trimmed if the agency has to absorb an estimated $469 million cut next year.

Washington Bureau Chief Kevin Miller can be contacted at 317-6257 or at:

Twitter: @KevinMillerDC


Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors

Further Discussion

Here at we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)

Today's poll: Fiscal cliff

How concerned are you that you’ll be personally affected by the so-called ‘fiscal cliff’?

A lot


Not Very

View Results